DIY Makeup Vanity | IKEA Alex Drawer Hack

Do you guys remember these makeup drawers? I think every girl in the 2000s had them or some version of them. I’m finding it’s not super convenient for me to take my makeup into the bathroom one item at a time to use the mirror there. So, I decided to fix the problem by making myself a DIY makeup vanity! I love using furniture I already own to create something new, and I’m so excited to share this with you!

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Materials & Tools you will need to Build a DIY Makeup Vanity

To do this, I needed to buy a second set of drawers so that I could create a vanity look.  The first set I purchased on Amazon years ago, so I had to try and find a matching set (or as close to it as I could). They are almost the same in terms of drawer size and height (almost…we will get to that in a minute), so with a few DIY customizations, I decided it would be easy to make them look like part of the same piece of furniture. Although the drawers I used are from Amazon, the IKEA Alex drawers would be perfect for this!

Here’s how I did it! 

Step by Step Instructions to Build a DIY Makeup Vanity Table

Create a Shaker Style Look for the Drawers

First, I put the second set of drawers together. I realized shortly before this point that the units were not exactly the same height, which was frustrating. But I decided to put it together anyway and problem-solve later! 

Once the frame was put together, it was time to customize the drawers. Because I purchased both units separately and from different sources, the drawer handles aren’t quite the same. I fixed this by adding poplar boards to the outside edge of the entire drawer, creating a shaker-style look that will be identical on both sets of drawers.  

I mitered all the boards at a 45-degree angle so they would match up perfectly in the corners.

Pro Tip

I cut my first board for both the ends and the length of the drawers, and then I used those boards as a template to cut the rest. Projects like this go much faster when you do things in bulk where you can! 

Once the boards were sanded, it was time to attach them to the drawers. I tried two different methods for this part. First, I used construction adhesive and clamped all the boards down and let them dry. This took SO LONG and by the time I was done doing the first seven drawers, I didn’t want to do more. Each drawer took about 30-45 minutes before it was assembled, clamped, and totally dried. This was just too much time and I figured there had to be another way.   

So I tried a different method. This was the winner for me and the one I would recommend for your DIY makeup vanity. I went out and bought some super glue and some smaller nails for my nail gun, and I glued the poplar boards to the drawers and then put some pinhole sized nails into them. I put one or two at each end first to make sure the board was lined up properly with the edge of the drawer, and then one in the middle. This method worked so well and was so much faster, even taking into account the extra holes I had to fill. 

Once the drawers were all assembled and completely dry, I sanded the poplar boards completely smooth. I then wood-filled all the miter seams, the edges between the drawer and the poplar boards, and the holes left by my nailer. I always use my fingers for this task since I think they do the best job of spreading the wood filler into all the spaces. Then, once it was dry, I sanded again! 

Paint the Drawers

Then it was time to paint them. The first thing I did was prime everything. This is a MUST for this type of shiny furniture. If you don’t prime, your paint won’t stick properly, so it’s definitely worth doing this extra step. I also also lightly sand the furniture to get rid of that “shiny” finish. If you are wondering what painting supplies you should use you can read all about my painting equipment must-haves here.

For this project, I primed with a brush to cut in the little spaces and a foam roller for the rest.

For the paint, I chose “Rainy Days” in the Magnolia line by Joanna Gaines. I used my paint sprayer to get a totally smooth finish.  

Before I put the drawers together, I did another little DIY to them. I put contact paper on the drawer bottoms so they would be both pretty and clean, since it’s waterproof and easily wipeable. I noticed that my makeup did leave quite a lot of residue on the bottoms of the drawers, so I’m hoping this is the solution to that. It cost me less than $20 to do all the drawers. 

Then I put the drawers together! 

Once that was done, I put the drawer knobs on. I measured to find the center point of each drawer, used a template to drill a hole, and installed the knob. Depending on what style you choose, make sure they are all installed the same! It might be noticeable due to the shape or finish if half of them are upside down and the other half not.  

How I solved the height difference between the drawer units

I also solved the height issue! I bought a ClosetMaid shelf of the right thickness and attached it using super glue to the bottom of the shorter dresser to raise it up. 

Once the drawers were all put back in the dresser unit and the height-adjusting shelf was attached too, I framed the whole thing out in the same poplar board that I used for the drawers. This way the frame and drawers all match up! This really finished it off, and hid the extra board I installed on the short dresser too! I attached the boards with glue and my nail gun

Once that was done, I filled all my nail holes and the screw holes on the units themselves, and sanded them down (without the finished drawers in them), to get them ready for primer and paint. 

Add a DIY Makeup Vanity top

Then it was time to do the top. I cut my plywood to size and put edgebanding on the unfinished side that was facing out. I love edgebanding! Just in case you’ve never heard me rant about it before, it is a thin strip of wood with a glue backing. It comes in many different wood types and finishes. You just iron it on and trim the excess, and it gives you a beautiful finished edge. 

Prime and Paint the cabinets and top

Then, I sanded and primed the top and the dressers. I decided to spray the primer as well as the paint on the dressers themselves because it was easier and I like the way the finish looks. I also caulked the seams on the front edges before I moved on to paint. 

Then I painted the top and the units the same color as the drawers! 

I finished the top with a polycrylic top coat since I’m going to be wiping it every single day. It took two coats, with two hours to dry between each coat. Plus I gave it a good sanding in between coats with 220 grit sandpaper, to make sure the two layers of poly adhered to one another. 

Once everything was dry, I brought the pieces back upstairs and attached the top board to my units. I attached the board by running wood screws through the drawer units underneath and into the top board. The screws are hidden by the drawers, so this method did require any filling!

Then I added a beautiful stool and mirror to finish it off!

What do you guys think? Tag me @designingparkside if you turn your own dresser or drawer unit into a DIY makeup vanity like this one! I love to see your projects. 

A few weeks after completing this project I found these vanity lights on Amazon that I attached to the mirror. I absolutely love them!

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